I have a (mostly) standard phpBB forum so right now, images that are posted in [IMG] BB-tags don't have an alt text. I would like to change this and I'm doubting between two options:

  1. Use the topic title as alt text
  2. Use the most used words in the first post as alt text (I have a mod installed that sets those words as meta keywords)

A page has a maximum of 30 posts and the subforums that have a lot of pictures aren't accessible to Google. So at most, I think there will be 5 images per page. Is using the same alt text 5 times bad SEO-wise? Is there anything else I can do to get the right keywords to add?

2 Answers 2


The image alt attribute is used to describe an image when the image cannot be rendered. It is also used by 'screen reader' software where the content of the website is read out aloud, usually for users who's sighting is impaired.

So the alt attribute should be descriptive of the actual image:


<img src="sunset.jpg" alt="photo of a sunset over the ocean">

So unless the topic title or the most used words accurately describe the image, you should not be using either of these solutions. They would be unhelpful and if just using a list of keywords, could potentially be seen as keyword stuffing by Google.


A little grey hat SEO would be to try out either of your two ideas for a month and see which worked the best for your SEO. Try to include the actual description of what the image is for example:

  1. Picture of a Sunset in San Diego.
  2. Picture of a Sunset in San Diego + keyword here.

LMK which worked best. Curious.

  • I think the asker is saying that they don't have descriptions of the images handy, because they are user-generated forum content. Are you suggesting that they should experiment with manually tagging all the images their users are posting? Aug 26, 2023 at 2:58
  • @MaximillianLaumeister Exactly, I didn't have any description whatsoever of the images users were posting. There were also too many to manually add a description. Nowadays you could probably use some AI API to get a text that's at least half related to the image but a decade ago, anything autogenerated based on surrounding text would've been terrible and seen as keyword stuffing. Aug 28, 2023 at 8:35

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